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Denmark: Higher Penalties for Rape and Other Violent Crimes Contemplated

(Aug. 19, 2015) The new Danish Minister of Justice, Søren Pind, supports increasing the penalties for rape and other violent crimes in Denmark, it was reported on August 13, 2015. The Ministry is preparing a report on the issue that is expected to be completed in six months. (Lucie Rychla, Justice Minister Wants Higher Penalties for Rapists, ONLINE POST (Aug. 13, 2015).)

Under Denmark’s Criminal Code, the punishment for rape is “any term not exceeding eight years” in prison, but if the act “has been of a particularly dangerous nature,” or occurs “in particularly aggravating circumstances,” the perpetrator may be sentenced to up to 12 years. (The Criminal Code, Order No. 909 (Sept. 27, 2005, as amended by Act Nos. 1389 & 1400 of Dec. 21, 2005),§ 216, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Terrorism Prevention Branch Legislative Database; Straffeloven (Consolidated Act No. 871 of July 4, 2014, as last amended by Law No. 152 of Feb. 18, 2015), RETSINFORMATION.DK.) For aggravated assault, convicted offenders are subject to imprisonment for up to six months. (The Criminal Code, § 245.)

However, Ministry of Justice statistics for 2012 indicate that the average sentences for convicted rapists were under two years (719 days) in prison; thus, Pind stated, “[i]t is rare that someone gets a higher sentence than two years for committing a rape, and when we look at the factors that sometimes surround rape, it is far too little … . I believe it is important we do something about it for the general sense of justice.” (Rychla, supra.) Moreover, a January 2015 report stated that “the average sentence given to a child rapist was just three years, a quarter of the mandatory 12,” and persons guilty of aggravated assault typically were sentenced to three to six months in prison. (Id.)